Identity Theft Resources
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
Identity theft has become a common occurrence in our world and although we can’t foresee all means by which you could be a victim, by following the tips below, you can minimize your chance of becoming one:
- Each year, request a free credit report from the three credit reporting companies at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877)322.8228. Reviewing these reports can help detect fraud. Remember to request credit reports for underage members of your household. Fraudsters often focus on young people because their credit report is not established yet.
- Cancel cards you no longer use.
- A best practice is to visit your financial institution’s and other creditor’s websites at least weekly to monitor account activity or at a minimum carefully review each monthly statement.
- Use a crosscut shredder to destroy private documents you no longer need.
- Do not respond to unsolicited e-mails, telephone calls, or text messages that ask for personal information.
- Keep your Social Security card and checks at home in a secure place.
- Do not order checks with your Social Security number or driver’s license number printed on them.
- When creating passwords or passcodes, avoid using obvious numerical sequences (for example: 1234), your birth date, your Social Security number, or your mother’s maiden name.
- Do not store confidential information on computers, memory sticks, cell phones, or other electronic devices.
- Store for safe keeping in your home a list of all cards carried along with contact numbers in the event of a lost or stolen purse or wallet.
- Be alert to bills, account statements, or other information that does not arrive as expected.
- Never click on unsolicited emails; instead always type in a web address you know. Use firewalls, anti spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer. Install updates to the software as needed.
- Store personal information in a secure place in the home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house.
- Trust your instinct. If something doesn’t appear right, do not provide information and report the event to local police, bank or other potentially impacted party.
- Do not give out any personal information to anyone calling you. German American State Bank will never call you asking for your card number, personal PIN or account number(s). Please contact the bank at 815.362.2310 immediately if you receive such a call requesting this information.
Identity Theft Steps
If you are a victim of identity theft, take the following four steps as soon as possible. Keep a written record with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence.
STEP ONE: Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.
Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the toll-free number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, too.
- Equifax: 1.800.525.6285; http://www.equifax.com/
- Experian: 1.888.397.3742; http://www.experian.com/
- TransUnion: 1.800.680.7289; http://www.transunion.com/
Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you are entitled to order free copies of your credit report, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your SSN will appear on your credit reports. Once you get your credit reports, review them carefully. Look for inquires from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, debt on your accounts that you can’t explain. Check information like SSN, address, name and initials, and employers are correct. If you find fraudulent information get it removed. Call Federal Trade Commission for assistance at 1.877.ID.THEFT or www.ftc.gov/idtheft.
STEP TWO: Close the accounts that you know, or believe, to have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company. Follow up in writing, and include copies (NOT originals) of supporting documents. It’s important to call and follow up in writing with credit card companies and banks. Send all correspondence via certified mail with return receipt requested so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of all correspondence.
When you open new accounts, use new Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) and passwords. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, birth date, phone number, etc. If the identity thief has made changes on your accounts, request a copy of the company’s fraud dispute form. Additional information pertaining to account closure and reopening accounts can be found on the FTC's website: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov.
Notify your bank(s) immediately of your possible actual Identity Theft.
STEP THREE: File a report with your local police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Get a copy of the police report or at the very least the number of the report. It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of a crime. If the police are reluctant to take your report, ask to file a “Miscellaneous Incidents” report, or try another jurisdiction like state police.
STEP FOUR: File a complaint with Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC can refer victims’ complaints to other government agencies and companies to further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces.
Suspicious activity? Know this...
We will NEVER call or e-mail you to verify account information.
To contact the Bank with questions or concerns about your account, please see the Locations & Hours page.
For a lost or stolen ATM / Debit Card, please call 1-888-297-3416. Also, please give us a call at 815.362.2310 and make us aware of the situation.